What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic medical system which combines the use of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, nutrition, massage, and accessory techniques to bring the body back into balance.
Whereas Western medicine looks closely at a symptom and tries to find an underlying cause, Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the body as a whole. Each symptom is looked at in relationship to all other presenting symptoms.
The goal of the TCM practitioner is to assess the entire constitution of the patient considering both physiological and psychological aspects. The practitioner first observes the general characteristics of the patient, then tries to discern a relationship called a pattern of disharmony. Treatment is aimed at restoring harmony and bringing the body back into balance.
Acupuncture consists of the gentle insertion and stimulation of thin, disposable, sterile (one time use) needles at strategic points near the surface of the body. The needles are much finer than the familiar hypodermic needles. While many acupuncture patients are initially wary of the claim that acupuncture doesn't hurt, they soon discover that the experience is quite relaxing.
How does Acupuncture Work?
The National Institute of Health in the United States notes that many researchers are investigating the exact mechanisms of acupuncture. Some of these researchers have attributed the following as to how acupuncture works:
- Changes to the central nervous system during acupuncture sessions alter the regulation of blood pressure and flow as well as body temperature
- Acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system causing neurotransmitters and neurohormones to be released, thereby boosting your body's natural ability to heal itself
- Acupuncture reduces pain by releasing endorphins, which naturally occur in the body's pain control system, into the central nervous system.
A Chinese herbal formula has as many as 20 different herbs. A carefully balanced recipe of several different herbs is specifically tailored for each person's entire health condition. Herbal formulas are developed to use each herb to its greatest advantage and to further enhance the treatment principle devised by the practitioner. Chinese herbs makes it possible to treat complicated diseases at the same time as well as offer internal support to one's immune system.
Accessory techniques are used to increase the effectiveness of treatments by enhancing the therapeutic principles being utilized. Depending on the presenting condition, the practitioner may choose to incorporate one or more of the following techniques into the treatment.
Cupping is a method of applying acupressure by creating a vacuum suction on the patient's skin using glass cups. The therapy is used to relieve what is called stagnation in TCM terms. Furthermore, cupping is especially useful in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Cupping is also used to treat neck, shoulder, back, and other musculoskeletal pain. It works wonders for those tight, achy, knotted muscles!
Gua Sha is the sister technique to cupping. It involves the use of a round-edged instrument, typically a ceramic spoon. Oil is applied over the skin followed by applying pressured strokes with the ceramic spoon. The goal of this technique is to relieve stagnation and promote circulation. It is typically used in the treatment of acute infectious illness (i.e. the common cold), upper respiratory and digestive problems. Gua Sha provides relief from pain, stiffness, chronic headaches located at the base of the skull, fever, chills, cough, nausea, and especially chronic tightness in muscles due to high levels of stress.
This technique involves burning the herb Artemisia (mugwort) at a distance from the skin to warm an acupuncture point or channel. This produces a comfortable sensation of warmth that penetrates deep into the skin. Moxibustion or moxa warms the meridians and aids in the smooth flow of Qi (energy). It is beneficial in chronic conditions that are cold in nature. Additionally, this is a very effective accessory technique utilized in naturally turning babies presenting in a breeched position.
Auricular Acupuncture (Ear Acupuncture)
Ear acupuncture effectively treats disorders by stimulating specific points on the auricle with acupuncture needles. Ear acupuncture is the treatment of choice when treating patients working to overcome addictive behaviors (i.e. alcohol, nicotine, drugs, and food addictions). Furthermore, ear points are often employed with effective results when working to regulate hormone levels to improve fertility as well as for patients suffering from anxiety. Ear acupuncture generates a strong and lasting calming effect on patients.
The World Health Organization has cited over 43 conditions that lend themselves to treatment by acupuncture. Below is a small list of commonly treated ailments by Acupuncture.
- food allergies, peptic ulcer, chronic diarrhea, dysentery, constipation, indigestion, gastrointestinal weakness, anorexia, chronic (acute) gastritis, enteritis, cholecystitis, pancreatitis, etc.
- stress incontinence, urinary tract infections, nephroptosia (prolapse), nephritis, and sexual dysfunction, frequent/urgent urination, etc.
- irregular, heavy, or painful menstruation, amenorrhea, menopausal syndrome, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), infertility in women and men, STD's, a variety of gynecological inflammation, PCOS, low libido, irregular or annovulation
- emphysema, asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and pneumonitis
Disorders of the Bones, Muscles, Joints and Nervous System:
- rheumatic (rheumatoid) arthritis, gout, sprain, tennis' elbow, periarthritis of shoulder, lumbar muscle strain, prolapse of lumbar vertebral disc, cervical spondylopath, stiff neck, migraine headaches, neurosis, neuralgia, sciatica, facial spasm, facial paralysis (Bell's Palsy), insomnia and dizziness, etc.
- hypertension (high blood pressure), hypotension.
Emotional and Psychological Disorders:
- depression, anxiety, mood disorders, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc.
- urticaria, eczema, acne, alopecia areata, hair loss, seborrheic dermatitis, neurodermatitis, vitiligo, chloasma, cutaneous pruritus.
Five Sense Organs' Diseases:
- tinnitus, otitis media, dysaudia, sinusitis, tonsillitis, pharyngolaryngitis, toothache, conjunctivitis, myopia, glaucoma, cataract, etc.
- alcohol, nicotine, drugs, and food
For other acute or chronic and painful debilitating disorders with little to no response to Western Medical intervention.